Monday, January 19, 2009

Further thoughts on my first old-school sessions

First, I watched some Flash Gordon serials last night, and I can't see any way that our next session is not going to take us to the planet Mongo. Giant Space Iguanas, man.

But back to last week's session: What did the player's think? Our youngest player, totally new to D&D, comparing the game we'd just played to his brief exposure to the Byzantine rules of 3.5, said of Swords & Wizardry (with interference from the Little Brown Books), "It's easier."

And it is easier for the players, in that it requires little front-end learning before they can participate in the game. It's probably harder for them to survive (if they're foolish enough to roll the dice, as Jeff Rients drew my attention to over on the TARGA blog), and it probably requires more problem-solving on their part--but, hey, that sounds like the makings of a more satisfying game to me.

I learned something important from our other (nearly) first-time player, and it happens to be in line with what that post about the way to survive being avoiding OD&D's very deadly combat rules. This new player, the derisively-laughing elf maid I mentioned last time, when the party sighted a group of bandits in the middle distance, unlike the experienced players, thought first of parley and avoiding a fight.

I told her that I thought it was a very wise thing to do, but like a scientist altering the object of study, my comment caused to ask if she should have immediately prepared for a fight instead. I hope her better instincts haven't been quashed already, considering that the bandits did in fact attack the party without provocation. Well, they outnumbered the PCs 2:1, and they were mounted. It looked like easy prey.

Turns out OD&D's sleep spell is an amazing value for the budget-conscious young magic-user: this first-level spellslinger and his lonely single hit point, with but a flick of the wrist, dispatched all of the foes in what otherwise would surely have been a totally party kill.

So, a play philosophy that I had to learn from an external source, but came naturally to a brand-new player, and a glass-shelled magic-user saving the day with a noted lack of either fuss or muss for a player not at home with elaborate rules. It sure seems that for me progress in this hobby is backwards.

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